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Ooooh, that's a tough one.

Posted by Tovah on October 9, 2003, at 16:04:09

In reply to Re: Well, from the POV of my church.... Tovah, posted by Elsa Pilder on October 9, 2003, at 9:59:44

Although "Theosis" and "Enlightenment" aren't the same thing, there is some parallel there in terms of both requiring a lifetime of work toward the goal and deep spiritual maturity. I for one haven't gone more than an inch on the path during my five years of being Orthodox. Anyway, probably the best thing for me to do is to provide a cut-and-paste from another writer, for I won't do it justice:
Eastern Orthodox theological thought regarding humanity, sin, and redemption is closely linked and revolves around the concept of theosis. The doctrine is also called deification or divinization, and though it is a hallmark of Eastern Orthodoxy it is shrouded in mystery which the Orthodox are hesitant to analyze. Simply put, theosis means being deified or becoming like God. Theosis connotes participation in God's nature while maintaining a distinct human nature. Orthodox thinkers consistently deny that theosis is a pantheistic worldview on the grounds that theosis does not involve the destruction of the human nature as part of the process. Theosis is held by the Orthodox to be the chief end of Humanity. Humans were created for deification [11].
Eastern Orthodoxy's assertion that humanity's ultimate goal is theosis, or participation in the Divine life, has informed and shaped their doctrine of the Fall. Their understanding of original sin differs from that of Western theologians in that Adam and Eve are not responsible, through their sin, for universal guilt, but for universal mortality. Adam's personal sin did not bring condemnation upon all people, it brought death upon all people. The experience of mortality leads otherwise guiltless individuals to sinful acts [12], but the Orthodox maintain that each person's sin is the result of his or her own choice and not the choice of Adam [13].

Given this idea that humanity's basic problem is mortality, the Orthodox view of redemption is much broader than that of the Western church. Western theological tradition emphasizes the judicial aspect of salvation, asserting that in salvation, God is primarily concerned with the remission of sin [14]. The Orthodox view is that the gospel is not primarily the solution to man's problem with personal sin. It is God's provision of divine life in Christ, the beginning of theosis. A residual benefit of beginning the process of deification is the remission of sins. Baptism is the means by which the believer enters into this new life. John Meyendorff summarizes the idea of redemption in Eastern Orthodox theology well. He says,

Communion in the risen body of Christ; participation in divine life; sanctification through the energy of God, which penetrates the humanity and restores it to its "natural" state, rather than justification, or remission of inherited guilt--these are at the center of Byzantine understanding of the Christian Gospel [15].

If you want to read a lot aabout Theosis, there is tons on the web, but I would include the word "Orthodox" in your "Theosis" google because a lot of new and esoteric religions use the term and it's really not the same.




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